U.K. Consumer Confidence Increases for First Time in Four Months

U.K. consumer confidence rose in May for the first time in four months as Britons became more optimistic about the economic outlook and slowing inflation eased pressure on shoppers, GfK NOP Ltd. said.

An index of sentiment gained 2 points from April to minus 29, the London-based research group said in an e-mailed report today. The gauge is down from minus 21 a year earlier. A measure of Britons’ outlook for the economy over the next 12 months rose 7 points to minus 26.

Inflation slowed to the least in more than two years in April, while retail sales rebounded in May after poor weather damped demand the previous month. Still, the U.K. is back in a recession and the turmoil emanating from the euro-area debt crises threatens to put the economy under further pressure.

“While this rise is indeed positive, consumer confidence remains mired in the very negative position it has been in for almost 18 months,” Nick Moon, GfK Social Research managing director, said in a statement. “Even though optimism about how the economy will perform” has improved, “it is still significantly down on where it was this time last year.”

An index of shoppers’ assessment of the economy over the previous year slipped 1 point to minus 58 and a measure of the climate for making major purchases dropped 2 points to a seven-month low of minus 32, GfK said.

The report showed a gauge of Britons’ assessment of their personal financial situation over the next year climbed 4 points to minus 9. GfK interviewed 1,998 people from May 4 to May 13.

A separate report from Incomes Data Services today showed U.K. wage growth slowed in the three months through April. The median pay settlement was 2.8 percent compared with 3 percent in the first quarter, the London-based pay researcher said in the report, which covered 107 deals for 2,359,303 workers. Inflation eased to 3 percent in April from 3.5 percent in March.

The Engineering Employers Federation and JAM Recruitment said pay growth at manufacturers accelerated to 2.8 percent in the quarter through April, the fastest in more than three years. The data cover 191 pay settlements affecting 34,090 employees.

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